Blizzard Removes McCree’s Noose Spray From Overwatch After BLM Blowback
Activision Blizzard today quietly removed McCree’s Noose spray from Overwatch that many might find offensive given recent events in the United States.
The has been removed from the game and replaced with a much more politically acceptable BAD LUCK horseshoe spray, still keeping with the cowboy asthetic without evoking imagery that might rightfully remind someone of the lynchings that still occur to this day in the United States.
Blizzard has not directly commented on the removal of McCree’s Noose spray from Overwatch, but generally, has issued a lengthy statement about the Black Lives Matters movement back on Juneteenth.
“Blizzard stands in solidarity with those fighting against racism, because racism is as dangerous as any pandemic for those affected,” J. Allen Brack said in the statement. “We stand with those fighting against social and institutional structures that promote inequality among people of color.”
Blizzard also committed to making donations to the Equal Justice Initative, the United Negro College Fund, and the Management Leaders of Tomorrow to fight systemic racial inequality. Thye have also committed to support black-owned businesses and to amplify the voices of Black content creators and influencers.
What Else Has Blizzard Done in Support of the BLM Movement?
Blizzard has recently made statements saying that they would make every effort to continue the fight against racism, especially in their games. This removal of McCree’s Noose spray from Overwatch is only one thing they’ve done, but perhaps the least impactful so far.
“For many years, we’ve had teams working with A.I. and machine learning to reduce toxicity and hate speech, as well as to help improve the overall gaming experience,” CEO J. Allen Brack said in a statement last month. “Since January 1 this year, we’ve banned over 30,000 accounts for these reasons, as well as issued more than three million total hours of player suspensions. These penalties have notably improved our game environments: over the last two years, we’ve seen a 43% reduction in poor behavior reports, and a 59% reduction in the re-offense rate. And while this is progress, we’ve identified other places where we can use this technology and have more work to continue to do toward this effort.”
Other Activision Blizzard Actions to Be More Politically Correct
This is far from Activiison Blizzard’s only action to be more politically correct in recent months. They also removed the “OK” symbol from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. This was in the game in the form of an emote where the player’s soldier avatar would flash the OK hand gesture.
This gesture has become ridiculed as a white power symbol, being displayed primarily when people are using it as a racist dog whistle. Though the symbol being used in this way actually began as a hoax on 4chan, it has become widely used by folks looking to either express racist opinions (as in the case of certain police officers or military members) or by trolls looking to trigger people offended by such messages, such as minorities or those who are fighting for equality across races.
Comparisons to the Blitzchung and Free Hong Kong Movement
Some in the press and in the gaming community have found Activision Blizzard’s statements here to be somewhat contradictory, in that they did not support the Free Hong Kong movement or stand in solidarity with Ng “Blitzchung”Wai Chung when he spoke out against it on a Hearthstone broadcast back in October of 2019.
This led to blowback from the community, which included for the first time ever a response from the United States congress about an esports player ban, as well as massive protests form the Blizzard community. In the end, CEO J. Allen Brack was forced to apologize, and reduce the penalty to Blitzchung from lifetime to six months for bringing up political opinions during an esports broadcast in the first place.
Many felt their response might have been tied to the fact that Blizzard is in part owned by Tencent, who have ties to the Chinese government and have been very slow to speak out in favor of Hong Kong, who have been fighting for the independence from the Chinese government for quite some time. Given that Brack still did not mention China or Hong Kong in the official apology at Blizzcon, some felt that the apology rang hollow, and while they still appreciated Blizzard’s actions in support of BLM, it came off as a double standard yet again.